Archive for August, 2010

This High School Thing

Monday, August 30th, 2010

For those of you looking for an upbeat post about homeschooling the high school years, look elsewhere 🙂 I love to encourage homeschooling mothers but this is a “I don’t have a clue” post! It’s where I am… but I know it’s not where I am going to stay!

I’ve been anxious about school lately.

I love homeschooling and I’m passionate about it. However, I’d be lying to say that it’s easy. Sometimes its hard. Lately, its been really hard. I feel as if I’m brand new at teaching my children at home. Actually, I’ve been more stressed lately than when I first started. Why? Because I am overwhelmed with teaching high school.

I never said I was going to “do” high school. At first, I said we’d take it year by year.  Once, a long time ago, I was a certified in three states to teach kindergarten through eighth grade. Please don’t think for a minute that I really believe that piece of paper qualified me to do what I do. The best homeschooling moms I know are not teachers by trade. My certification did not equip me or qualify me to homeschool.  It did, however, provide me with first hand experience in the public schools. Thus I knew my children were “getting enough” in  an hour a day of academics when they were very young. I knew how much to assign to them as they matured through the elementary grades. I felt confident because I had worked with many young children. For some reason, 9th grade has put me out of my comfort zone. I am fearful that I can’t provide enough. I lack the confidence I once had.

Grammar I love. Math – not so much. I don’t speak a foreign language. I made a C in high school chemistry and biology dissections literally made me gag. I don’t want to do all that again. I like stories. I love field trips. I love knowing that if I don’t get to something, I have time. Now, I feel the stress of “running out of time.”

I’ll admit it. I’ve found myself praying for God to take the burden of homeschooling my high-schooler from me. I’ve considered classes online and classes at our co-op. I’ve wondered about community college classes and how early we can pursue those. I have sat down to plan and felt the tears welling  and wanting to spill over onto my planning book. Sometimes I just want to be mommy! I don’t want to do algebraic equations!

Yet God has called me to homeschool. He has not told me to quit. Classes outside of home this year are not feasible for our family. He did not say this journey would be easy. However, this weekend I have reflected on some things that He has said:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philipians 4:6

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  I Peter 5:7

“Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  Psalm 55:22

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:30

I will pray. I will cast my cares on him. As I walk with Him, He will carry this load. His burden is light! We will do this high school thing. And in so doing, His joy will be my strength!

The joy of the Lord will be my strength
He will uphold me all of my days
I am surrounded by mercy and grace
And the joy of the Lord is my strength!

Verse 2 “The Joy of the Lord” by Twila Paris

Doggie Knits

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Christina has a new book full of doggie knit patterns. She completed her first project yesterday and now Tanner is all ready for winter in his handsome new sweater! I have no doubt he will have a complete wardrobe of new doggie knits by the time cold weather arrives!

Teaching “Jesus Loves Me”

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

This is one of my favorite family videos of all time. (Watch it before reading further! You’ll love it too… I promise!)

Every time I listen to little Sarah hit that high note, I smile. I love it! Jesus loves Sarah! Jesus loves me! Yet how do we teach our children this truth and how to love him back?

There is no formula.

We can not take them to church (check), read the Bible (check), say bed-time prayers (check) and say we have discipled our children. Reading the right parenting books, Christian schooling, holding to high standards of modesty, or choosing our children’s friends will not ensure that our children will have pure hearts. We can not put them in the right programs. At the same time, keeping them with us constantly will not “do the trick.”

The longer I parent, the more I see my shortcomings and strengths quite plainly by simply being around my children. The other day one of my children obnoxiously sat next to me chomping on her cup of crushed ice. Just as I was about to snap, “WILL YOU PLEASE STOP?!?” Daniel, with a smirk on his face kindly requested, “Honey, I know you picked up that habit from your mother, but please stop. It’s annoying.” OUCH! The same child LOVES salads and vegetables for lunch and enjoys getting outside to run… habits that I’ve picked up this past year that she is emulating! Seeing this makes me smile. It’s my goal for her (and all my children!) to see more positive than negative qualities in me. For good or bad, our children learn by example. That is indeed a challenge that involves a true desire and effort by us (the parents) to be growing in the Lord.

When it comes to instilling a love of Scripture and a heart for God in our little ones, the same principles apply. More is “caught than taught.”If I read my Bible first thing in the morning , my children will often come downstairs, look at me, and grab their Bibles too. However, if I’m on the computer checking e-mail, they will do the same.  It is true “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” When I am impatient and short -tempered with the children, they become so with one another.  Thus, to disciple your children, first cultivate your relationship with Christ. Pray. Read the Word. Seek growth and model a teachable spirit.

When my oldest child was entering kindergarten, we began the practice of regular family devotions. In the early days of our parenting, devotions consisted of a very short Bible story during breakfast. Daniel read while the children ate. That way they wouldn’t interrupt as much! We’ve done many different things over the past ten years. Some families just read the Bible and that is wonderful! We’ve read books of the Bible, Bible storybooks, done themed studies, and even studied hymns or traditions around the holidays as part of our devotion time. We discuss and we pray. However, there is so much we could do and we are always seeking to grow in this area. This year, we’d like to set aside a weekly time of family prayer because we find that we often are rushed after our breakfast devotions. We’d also like to memorize more Scripture. We are not perfectly consistent. There are times I must leave the table and discipline our youngest. There are times we get blank stares. There are times it feels we are just “checking the devotional box off our to-do list.” However, there are so many times that I know the children are learning life-changing truths. So often they engage, ask questions and are awed by God’s word! I am so thankful for my husband who “keeps on keeping on” when it comes to daily Bible reading.

While there is no perfect resource other than the Bible itself, I have found some books and CD’s that have been helpful over the years.

Music is such a gift from God! When my toddlers or preschoolers are cranky, putting on an upbeat CD changes the mood. My favorites are:

Sing the Word: Musically, these are absolutely beautiful. I’ve bought over a hundred of them over the years to give as baby gifts and birthday presents. My favorites are God Our Provider and Great In Counsel and Mighty In Deed. Each of these CDs have a whole chapter of scripture set to music. What a blessing to hear young children able to sing a whole Psalm! Visit the site and listen to the samples. I just love them!

Hide ‘Em In Your Heart: These are older CD’s but so sweet. I can not listen to them without thinking of each of my children as little ones. You must see Esther sing to “God Loves A Cheerful Giver!”

Seeds of Faith: These are great too! They’re more “big kid” and “pop” sounding. My 5-10 year olds love them!

I could list hundreds of books but I’m going to stick to just a few of my all time favorites…

ABC Bible Verses: A Bible verse for each letter of the alphabet.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Bible story points to Jesus. This book has wonderful illustrations and helps children see the “big picture.”

Right Choices: My children have enjoyed this little book about making good choices. I like it but often go a little deeper about “why” right choices are made in each illustration. I will admit to skipping one or two pages when mine are really young because the school situation described is irrelevant for our family. However, I do like this little book. It’s a great way to discuss “right choices” to preschool children.

Training Hearts Teaching Minds: This is a resource helpful in teaching the shorter catechism. I think it would be best for children 5 and up.

Parenting With Scripture: It is so important to speak God’s Word continually to our children. We should “preach the Gospel” to them daily in our interactions with them. By no means have I arrived in this area! I mess up. I get angry. Yet even when I fail, I desire to humbly express my sorrow and model a desire to grow. This book points parents to Scripture so that we can more effectively point our children in the same direction.

Doorposts Charts: I love these visual reminders to be diligent, bless others and resolve conflict. These are wonderful little charts to hang up and refer to often. Click on each chart on the website and you will see how practical and wonderful they are!

The above resources are for young children and I know there are many others. I may post with some of my picks for older children at another time. Feel free to leave comments with links to your favorites! Blessings as you seek to teach your children about God’s Word!

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-8

Our “Family-Oriented” Youth Group!

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

For years I’ve been afraid of youth group. That was ok, because for years I didn’t have any children old enough to attend so it was a non-issue! However, I knew that when my children became old enough, they’d not participate. Why? Because I’ve read the books and articles and know the arguments against youth meetings which include:

Parents are to be the primary spiritual teachers for their children.

Youth leaders are generally young and inexperienced and male… not good for our daughters.

Putting teens in youth can set them up for boy/girl relationships.

Our kids aren’t youth. They are young adults. We don’t need to put them in a group that encourages foolishness.

Age-segregated meetings divide the family and take away time we can be discipling our own children.

The entertainment focus of youth creates selfishness.

The purpose of youth group is to reach unsaved kids. Our teens know Jesus. They don’t need it.

All of the above can be true. I’ve been in youth groups (a long time ago!) characterized by entertainment, relationships, and foolishness. I’ve seen youth pastors behave inappropriately. I’ve seen teens look anywhere but to their parents for spiritual guidance.

Youth having a great time with young children at our first VBS.. such a sweet time!

However, might I say that all youth groups aren’t the same? If I were in a church characterized by the above, I’d wonder about the discipling happening in homes of the youth. I not only wouldn’t have my children in the youth group, but I may be looking elsewhere for a church!

My husband and I carried on “not doing youth” until last year when our sweet daughter, who had had a difficult year with leg surgery taking her out of several extra-curricular activities, approached us and asked, “Mom and Dad, Would you consider letting me be a part of the youth group? I know you don’t want to do that, but I’d really like to. ” After talking with her, we could see that her motives were to grow in the Lord, develop closer relationships with her girlfriends, and have opportunities to serve. We’ve always loved our youth pastor. Never, ever have we not trusted him. Our reasons for not participating were fears of other kids’ influences and busy-ness. After praying about it, we felt we should let our daughter attend.

What a blessing her involvement in youth was for her and for us! So often, as Daniel led our family devotions, she contributed wisdom she learned from Pastor Scott’s teachings. We were all blessed by her! We also began to see her truly working on some weaknesses that we’d been praying about for a very long time. Her relationships with her siblings and girlfriends and especially us (her parents!) took on a maturity not present before.

Tonight we went to a youth vision meeting and Daniel and I were so inspired. Tonight we heard the following…

Parents are the most important spiritual teachers. Period. Then we were inspired by a dad who mentored his sons by weekly Bible study/breakfast dates with other fathers and sons for years!

It is the desire of our youth pastor to see young teens develop into mature, godly adults. He stated, “I do not want your son/daughter to stay 13.”

Entertainment doesn’t align with the vision for our youth to obtain spiritual maturity. While the teens will have fun, the worship and teaching are the focal points of the meetings. There are also many service and mission opportunities.

Results of a survey taken by youth members were shared. The questions all involved the discipleship that occurs within their homes: how often parents pray with teens, have devotions, resolve conflict Biblically, etc. Parents then were given tips on how to “preach the gospel” to their children daily – through praying, conflict resolution, etc.

Parents were encouraged to lead or host small group Bible studies for girls or guys (same sex).

Parents were encouraged to set aside at least one night of the week for a family prayer time. “You may get blank stares, ” Pastor Scott said, “and if you do, just do it again the next week!”

Families were encouraged to worship together in church.

I haven’t been as inspired to continue “keeping on” loving, teaching and discipling my teens as I was tonight ever – not even during my favorite weekend of the year at our state homeschooling conference! I need that! When my children were small, I had such great ideas and was always eager to try something new to teach and encourage them. While I love my children now more than ever, that enthusiasm isn’t what it used to be. I’ll admit that I get tired and weary! Having a youth ministry that considers its purpose to come alongside parents to encourage discipleship is what I call a “family-oriented” youth group!

This year I have four children in our wonderful youth ministry. I am blessed. They are blessed. I’m thankful, and on the way home from the vision meeting tonight I heard a little voice in the back of the van that said, “I think Wednesday is going to be my favorite school- day of the week.”

I agree! Mine too!

Too much zucchini? Make zucchini bread!

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Generally, I like to eat produce in its most simple form… either raw, roasted or cooked with seasonings. However, really overgrown zucchini is not very good. A sweet neighbor gave me two zucchinis this week and they were HUGE! My oldest daughter asked if she could spend the day baking and put that zucchini to good use…. in zucchini bread. She made 20 loaves out of just two zucchinis! Oh my… It is SO good!  This recipe came from my mother-in-law and her sister. I’ve had lots of zucchini bread and must say this is the best!

Zucchini Bread:

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

3 eggs

1 t salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

3 t vanilla

3 cups grated zucchini – unpeeled

3 cups whole-wheat flour

1 t baking soda

1/4 t baking powder

3 t cinnamon

Mix sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and zucchini. Sift dry ingredients and add to wet mixture. Add nuts. Bake in greased and floured pans at 350 degrees. Check with a toothpick after 30 minutes. Makes 1 medium loaf.

This is the unhealthy version which Anna made. Had I made it, I would have substituted 1/2 cup of applesauce for 1/2 cup of the oil. I also would use sucanat in place of the sugar or cut the sugar a little. The whole-wheat flour is delicious in this recipe. It gives it a hearty taste.

Enjoy!

For more recipes using fresh produce, see Life As Mom.